James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.2 Samuel 11:1-12:31
DAVID’S GREAT SIN
GOD’S ESTIMATE OF DAVID’S SIN (2 Samuel 12:1-14)
Why the incident in this lesson should be designated “David’s great sin,” when he committed so many which the popular mind might consider more serious, can only be answered by the divine estimate of it. Jehovah regarded nothing David had done as comparable in its iniquity with this. Nathan’s address to David shows this, the chastisement that followed David through the rest of his life shows it, and David’s own feelings revealed in Psalms 51, 32, 103, which he is supposed to have written on his repentance for this sin, bear a similar testimony.
URIAH’S CHARACTER (2 Samuel 11:6-17)
David’s sin is scarcely more conspicuous in the picture than Uriah’s self- restraint, patriotism and general nobility of character; and this, whether or not we regard him as having a suspicion of the king’s motives in the premises and the reason for them.
FORGIVENESS CONSISTENT WITH CHASTISEMENT (2 Samuel 12:10-14)
The king’s indignation at the offender in the parable (2 Samuel 12:1-6) is an illustration of a common fact that when men are most indulgent to their own sins they are most ready to condemn those of others. The judgment
pronounced upon David shows it possible for a saint to be restored to God’s favor, while at the same time the divine abhorrence of sin must be shown in bitter results in the present time. David lost four sons after this, and other evils came upon him. (Compare 1 Corinthians 5:1-5; 1 Corinthians 11:28-32.)
DAVID’S FAITH AND OURS (2 Samuel 12:15-23)
David’s remark in 2 Samuel 12:23 may be taken as an intimation of the belief of a future life and the immortality of the soul; and yet David’s faith could not have been as deep or broad as that vouchsafed to the believer in these days. When the child of a saint now passes hence, it is not for the latter to say that he shall not return to him for, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Jesus may return before the saint dies and bring the loved one with Him.
EXPLANATORY WORDS (2 Samuel 12:26-31)
The concluding verses of chapter 12 require explanation. For example, as throwing light on Joab’s words in 2 Samuel 12:27-28, it would seem that Rabbah, which had been besieged for a long period, was divided into two parts, a lower and an upper town divided by a stream. The first had been taken by Joab, but the second, the more important of the two, must be taken by David in person if the latter were to get the honor for it. Today kings gain victories by their generals, but in earlier times it could not be done by proxy. This was a great city, and should it fall to Joab’s arms it would have been named in his honor to David’s humiliation.
The torture (2 Samuel 12:31) is another illustration of the horrors of war in that day, and is justified by some as an act of retributive justice on a people infamous for their cruelties (1 Samuel 2:2; Amos 1:13), but there is a happier explanation. The word “under” used three times is by others translated “to” as referring not to their being slain in this manner, but being subjected to this kind of slavery. And so when it says he “made them pass through the brickkiln,” with a slight change it would read, he “made them labor at the brickkiln.”
1. What three facts show the awfulness of this sin of David?
2. How does this lesson distinguish between forgiveness and chastisement?
3. Have you read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18?
4. How might 2 Samuel 12:31 be rendered?
5. Try to memorize Psalms 51, 103.